Animal communicators are often categorized (like tree huggers) as irrational lovers of nature, not in step with today’s fast-pace modern life. Some people may find it strange or even laughable to think of communicating with animals. Yet remembering back to childhood, some of us may have a memory of talking to a fellow creature. It may have been a worm or spider, a household pet or an animal confined to a zoo. Until signaled from adults or other children that it is not OK, communicating with plants and animals is as natural as well, being human.

Not so far in our distant past and still found in aboriginal cultures; our deep connection to the natural world was taken for granted. In the book “Spell of the Sensuous,” author David Abram explores this relationship between being a human form and that of the wider community of nature.

“As humans, we live our own bodies. We cannot, as humans, precisely experience the living sensations of another form. And yet we do know how it feels to sip from a fresh pool of water or bask and stretch in the sun,” says Abram in his book.

Being aware of animals and plants for that matter encourages us to re-enter our emotional sensibility. This emotional realm, Goergetown University Medical Center brain biochemist Dr Candace Pert explains in her “Your Body is Your Subconscious Mind” series, is the constant flow of information between all the cells in our body.

Her scientific studies into neuropeptides, called the molecules of emotion, strongly suggest that connecting to the emotional realms of life encourages the free flow of information which can be essential for a whole and healthy self.

Tuning in to our animal companions helps both human and animal to live healthy lives. At times, it is difficult for us to understand what our animal companions are trying to communicate to us. They may go to great lengths to get our attention, such as acting aggressively, spraying, barking or exhibiting other abnormal behaviors.

For those like Stevens, whose profession is to communicate with animals, it is not just a clever way of getting the dog to behave. Our ability to communicate encourages our hearts to open to unconditional love and gives life great meaning.

Learning from our animal companions can reveal not only information about their needs and health but can directly reflect our own imbalances and heed for attention.

Occasionally, says Stevens, companion animals will mirror their owners’ illnesses or emotional imbalances. This mirroring can help us learn about ourselves and help us grow as spiritual beings. This takes our relationship with our animals to the next level, by recognizing them as teachers.

To the extent one can quiet and open to the web of life, one can enter into communion with nature in a profound healing way.

Abram’s explores the profound ability of traditional shamans to be great healers and proposes that we can understand this as an ability to profoundly connect with other life forms.

“To humankind, these Others (other than human beings) are purveyors of secrets, carriers of intelligence that we ourselves often need; it is these Others who can inform us of unseasonable changes in weather, or warn us of imminent eruptions and earthquakes, who show us when foraging where we may find the ripest berries or the best route to follow back home.”

Communicating with animals is not a special gift of the few but a natural capacity inherent in being human. For some of us, it’s a bit like staying tuned to only one channel on our radio. Once your attention is no longer fixated on one channel you can discover a whole realm waiting to be heard.

Editor’s note: Way of Life offers a free lecture series twice a month on natural remedies to health challenges and alternative approaches to health. Liz Koch is their Education Coordinator. As with any medical condition, please consult a doctor or trained professional for treatment of specific illnesses. This column contains opinion and is not meant as medical advice. Liz Koch is the Way of Life Health Educator. You can contact her at svreeken@santacruzsentinel.com.